Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Alucarda (1978)

Caution: Spoilers Galore

A beautiful, young woman (Tina Romero) has just given birth to a daughter in a most desolate place. She hands the infant to a straw-covered old goat of a woman, instructing her to protect the child, “and don’t let him take her away.” The Goat Woman whisks the child off, leaving the young woman alone and frightened. The structure begins to echo with disembodied growls and unholy groans, while the young woman grimaces in terror. Methinks the little girl’s Daddy might have some friends in low places…

The child is taken to a convent to be raised by a strange order of nuns, who wear habits made of soiled feminine hygiene products. Alucarda (Tina Romero), who is shown now a young woman, finds a kindred spirit in Justine (Susana Kamini), who is taken in by the convent after the death of her parents. The beautiful, soft-featured Justine stands in bold contrast against her pale, raven-haired new friend. Be-frocked in heavy, head-to-toe black, Alucarda’s behaviour is unabashed. She takes Justine out into the woods to show her the many “secrets” she has discovered there.

The two girls encounter a barnyard oddity (somebody, at some point, loved a goat out in those woods and spawned a whole new kind of ugly) who is eager to show them his collection of protective amulets. Justine is frightened of the gamey woodland peddler (Claudio Brook), and rightly so. Alucarda, on the other hand, is intrigued by the gypsy’s talk of fortune and alchemy.

“I see your dream clearly, your past and future.
You have come from the dew in the forest, and
there they will be waiting for you.
Strange creatures, they are,
and you must take care.”

Alucarda flees, in tears, with Justine following behind her. They come upon what appears to be an old church, which the Tampon Torture Nuns have graciously decorated in gore-soaked bed sheets. Alucarda feels she knows the place, somehow, although she is certain she has never been there before. She brazenly decides to look inside. The bosom friends are entering into a crypt.

“Are you afraid of dying?
I mean, dying loving each other.
Dying together, so we may live as one
forever, with the same blood always flowing
through our veins. Darling, darling Justine…
I live in you...Would you die for me?”

Just as the girls prepare to enter into a solemn death pact, Alucarda unwittingly opens her own mother’s coffin, and in doing so, releases a terrifying cacophony of unholy voices which torment her mind. Alucarda herself lapses into delirium, while poor Justine looks on in horror. Just before our raven-haired Hellcat begins pulling out her hair in large, bloody chunks, the girls are able to break the spell of paralyzing terror that the haunted place has cast upon them, and flee to the sanctity of the convent. But the “voices from the past” haunt them, still. The girls sense that something has travelled back with them; a dark malevolence perceptibly casting its shadow over their union.

Justine collapses during a particularly fire-and-brimstone-filled sermon at Our Lady of the Tampon Torture Nuns. When Alucarda is charged with the responsibility of watching over her delicate friend, the girls speak openly about their shared sense of impending doom. After but a few moments alone with Justine, Alucarda is in fits again. This time, she seems to have developed a rather intense distaste for Jesus Jewelry.

Alucarda seems quite possessed; omitting sounds which only dogs can hear, along with others which are both audible and extremely uncomfortable to humans. Calling out the names of the fallen angel, she suddenly a starring role in a rather intriguing, ritualistic tableau: Justine lies limp and helpless against a wall, as the Gypsy Goat Man (when did he get here?) dry humps her. Alucarda is propelled backward by the awesome force of her 70’s beaver, achieving top-notch contortion while continuing to wail in a demonic language.

Gypsy Goat Man strips Justine of her clothes, and binds her to Alucarda by hands and blood. In spirit, the girls are led into the woods to become the sensuous centerpiece in a bona fide Witches’ Sabbat, complete with raucous orgy touched by the hands of the Horned God himself!

As Justine and Alucarda become more entrenched in their erotic woodland adventures, the most benign of the Tampon Torture Nuns, Sister Anjelica (Tina French), works herself into a bloody, bombastic Jesus frenzy on the girls’ behalf, beseeching her Saviour to protect them from harm. A lightning bolt of Righteous Revenge strikes and kills the High Priestess, thus ending the unholy ritual, and Sister Anjelica takes a well-deserved moonwalk across a beam of heavenly light in celebration.

But the demonic merry-go-round hasn’t stopped spinning yet! During Daily Scripture Drill, Justine and Alucarda are caught snickering in the back of class. When confronted by Sister Germana, they erupt into anti-Christian philosophy. Oh, my!

“And this is what the Devil does:
he grants us virtues to expand his Kingdom,
the only valid one. God, with his lack of knowledge,
does not understand this truth, and opposes it
with false thoughts and prayers…
Satan, Satan, Satan! Our Lord and Master!”

Sister Germana (Adriana Roel) urges the girls to repent, but poor, confused Justine merely flops around, speechless, while Alucarda hovers in the darkness, stoic in her evil vows. The Sisters order them to prepare for Confession at once, although Justine barely looks like she’ll hold out until dinner time. Stricken with what is presumably the physical manifestation of her allegiance with the Devil, she quickly slips into her deathbed, and pulls up the covers.

Alucarda’s confession doesn’t go very well. After spewing even more anti-Christian philosophy, our dark heroine makes a sexual advance on Father Lazaro (David Silva) and is ordered banished from the convent. Father Lazaro and the Tampon Torture Nuns retire to the Whipping Lounge to unwind after a long day spent dealing with demonic little girls. They must save their strength for the Exorcism!

Sister Anjelica arrives with Dr. Oszek (Claudio Brook) to inject some reality into the torrid scene of nuns rolling around on the floor in ecstasy, and teenage girls strung up on crosses, their clothes torn off and their blood spilled.

“This is not an act of faith!
This is the most primitive expression of ignorance
I have ever seen! You have just killed Justine!”

Dr. Oszek takes Alucarda away to the safety of his own abode, where his blind, trusting daughter Daniela is primed and waiting for the Devil Girl’s seductive charms. When she first awakens in the strange, new environment, Alucarda reacts like a caged animal. There is something horribly familiar about the Doctor, no matter what he says to try to calm her. But once the helpless, innocent Daniela begins exploring Alucarda’s face with her soft fingertips, Devil Girl is enraptured again.

Back at Our Lady of the Tampon Torture Nuns, the Satanic shit continues to hit the fan! Dr. Oszek is called back to help after Justine’s body is discovered missing. When the carcass of one of the Tampon Torture Nuns is found charred, as though by “the fires of Hell,” Father Lazaro takes matters into his own, sanctimonious hands, and dismembers her remains with the Lord’s Sword.

“She was dead, but the Forces of Evil
had not abandoned her!”

Even Dr. Oszek is convinced now; it must be the work of the Devil! The Devil, working through the still-possessed, undead body of Justine! And what’s worse, Alucarda, probably still-possessed as well, and most definitely still alive, is back home – alone – with poor Daniela! Sweet Christ!

The house is deserted. Alucarda has gone back to the only home she has ever known: the convent. Sister Anjelica takes Dr. Oszek to the crypt deep in the woods, where Justine’s body lay marinating in a coffin full of blood. She springs from her resting place, slashing at Sister Anjelica with all the fury of Hell. The persistent Sister makes one last plea for Justine’s immortal soul, and at last, innocence and purity flickers once again in the girls’ eyes… Until Oszek and his gang of Priests come rushing in to ruin the tender moment by dousing it with Holy Water.

In her final, searing moments, Justine lunges at Sister Anjelica, tearing her throat out, before collapsing dramatically to the floor, leaving little more than a charred mound of un-undead flesh behind. The crusaders must now seek out and destroy the Devil Girl, by means of Exorcism. They find Alucarda in the convent proper, setting nuns on fire with the fully-realized force of her Devil-given powers. At her side is Daniela, frightened and defenseless. Alas, Alucarda’s special brand of scary love brings about the undue suffering of yet another innocent playmate. As the blind girl tumbles down the staircase, Alucarda’s face is marked briefly with remorse, followed immediately with even more Hellfire.

The tattered, old hide of Sister Anjelica is erected during a crucial moment in Alucarda’s fiery Exorcism. Held Christ-like in the face of the raving Devil Girl, it acts as the Ultimate Weapon against the Forces of Evil living deep within the child. Alucarda howls ferociously, and pulls her hair some more for old times’ sake, but God’s Army hath expunged the Devil Girl… While the convent and a sizeable portion of its inhabitants burns, so it was a win-win situation.

ALUCARDA is an absolute dream to watch, time and again. The artistry is as rich and vivid as the underlying themes of religious oppression, sexual repression, and love’s innocence. Every frame of Juan López Moctezuma’s masterpiece is exquisitely shot, staged, dressed, and lit, by a brilliant team of artists led by Kleomenes Stamatiades. The musical score, composed by Anthony Guefen, provides all the necessary dramatic nuances without overpowering the breathtaking imagery.

Tina Romero is phenomenal in the title role, with a face so expressive that she actually seems to communicate her character better during non-speaking scenes. Romero’s portrayal of Alucarda as a lost orphan searching for a sense of belonging is as believable as her portrayal of the shrieking Devil Girl with the hypnotic eyes. Always filmed in sharp contrast against Alucarda, Justine’s character balances Alucarda’s insolence with soft, virginal beauty. Susana Kamini’s delicate features and demure mannerisms endear her to the role of Justine, the perfect companion for Alucarda in her harrowing journey of self-exploration.

So, run – don’t walk – to the woodland clearing filled with writhing Satanists nearest you!!!

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult

5/5 Kitty Skulls = Pick of the litter!


Laser said...


Laser said...


Anonymous said...

Ahhhh Kitty you bring joy to me for you have unknowingly unlocked a mystery that has plagued me for many moons - the quotes of them spewing Satan speak just so happen to be part of some songs by one of my favorite bands - My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult - and the Kult loves to take samples of lines from movies. I have managed to track most of them down but these ones have always eluded me and now you have shown me the light. I must track down the movie just to hear the familiar lines in their natural setting. Later tonight I'll go through my ipod and tell you the exact song you can find them in - report back tomorrow! Gracious mi gatita!

Kitty LeClaw said...

Dearest Absinthe: I really dig TKK, as well. Please do report back on that song -- I'm totally spacing!!! Now, it's burning in my own mind, and I don't have time to go through my MP3s before I have to leave for work!

If you have trouble finding a copy of ALUCARDA, do send me an email! I don't think there are very many people seeding this title.

Tenebrous Kate said...

This is a truly Righteous Write-Up of a gem of Mexihorror cinema! I love this movie, and I love that YOU love this movie. It warms the cockles of my black little heart. F'reals.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Kate: Sacrelicious lovin' with woodland manimals never looked so good, n'est-ce pas? The only thing I don't like about this movie is that it causes me to wander around, lost and confused, shrieking "Justine!!!" at the top of my lungs for weeks after viewing. This has cost me my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but fortunately, Our Lady of the Tampon Torture Nuns has accepted my application. When Jebus closes a door, Satan throws a kitten out a window.

Mr. Karswell said...

Any lil old time an innocent slips into the nightmare world of The Beast you know it's gonna be good. Tampon Torture Nuns and Daily Scripture Drillings aside, I love this movie justine'cuz it's just a really really good fucking movie. (All that poofy 70's hedge is merely delicious icing.) Okay, one more thing before I begin my own daily ritual of blood marinade:

The Thrill Kill Kult samples are in the song "And This Is What The Devil Does."

Yep, I See Good Spirits and I See Bad Spirits too.

Anonymous said...

Karswell - as always you prove yourself the master! You are correct on the MLWTTKK song. I thought that was the right one but wasn't sure. I'm also thinking some of it might show up on The Devil Does Drugs but I have to listen to it again.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Stephox: Amazing = You. You know EVERYTHING!!! I haven't heard that album in 15 years. I lent my copy to some thieving slut, and never gotz it back. This is their very first record, innit?

Too bad they had to become Dancey Drug Fr00tz. I can only listen to trashy porno music for so long before I want to pour bleach into my ear canal. Their early material is justsomuchbetter!!!

Anonymous said...

Awesome write-up, as usual.

I was gonna mention the TKK connection, but they done beat me to it. So instead, I will just do some devil dancing over here in the corner.

[IOW, put out the lights, fire up a clove ciggy, and dance around the tracers the cherry makes as my hands do the flippy-floppy goth dance. It makes you horny, don't try and deny it]

Kitty LeClaw said...

Snooksy: You have to get up pretty early in the morning to beat these kids to the punch.

And, are you making fun of the way I dance? It's the fault of the filthy SYNTHPOP, not ME!!!! Gimme dat smoke!! My hair hasn't smelled of cloves since the Ferretard days.

The Vicar of VHS said...

This film is firmly ensconced in the All-Time Top-5 non-Naschy movies at the Vicarage and Duchy, Kitty, and a great job of relating its wonders to the masses.

This is such a striking film just to LOOK at, from the nuns' unsettling habits to the WILD "Horde o'Christs" cathedral to the strange vegetation in the fields where Justine and Alucarda discover their love. And Justine rising from the blood-filled coffin...what's the word I'm looking for? Oh yes: ZANG.

The more I watch this movie the more I see it as a parable about the Church's intolerance of non-traditional love. Obviously Justine and Alucarda are Very Into Each Other well before the devil makes his appearance, and I think it's this lesbonic love that the "godly" characters in the movie are really reacting against, with all the devil and horror stuff that results being a DIRECT consequence of the suppression...if only they'd allowed these girls to make-out undisturbed and even encouraged, so much horror could have been avoided...

Anyway, much love for Alucarda, and for Killer Kitties everywhere. ;)

The Duke of DVD said...

Dearest Kitty, your delicious write-up warms my blackened heart, and sends me screaming with glee down the road to tumescence.

Alucarda, to me, represents all that is good and unholy in the realm of nunsploitation movies. We have gypsies, gypsy/nun orgies, more naked nuns, blasphemy in nearly every frame, and an overall feel that could only be achieved through strict adherence to Satan's tenets.

Bravo, madam. Bravo.

Kitty LeClaw said...

Vicar, Old Chap! And Duke! I don't believe we've ever been formally introduced. It's a pleasure, of course! I really hate to post this comment -- unlucky 13 would have been justice most poetic!

Striking to look at, most definitely. I swiped 87% worth the film in screen captures! It's always been my philosophy that a film should be just as good (if not better) with the volume off as it is with dialogue/score/sound effects.

The more I watch this movie the more I see it as a parable about the Church's intolerance of non-traditional love.

Yah, Bible Bangers don't usually dig dykes. In my more out-there moments, I would almost even want to say that Alucarda and Justine are really one in the same, like the viewer is seeing 2 sides of the same person. Of course, when her lighter half dies (Justine), it's nun-burnin' time!!!!

Maybe it's just me... Maybe I was doin' another kind of burnin' when I came up with this "theory."

kindertrauma said...

Amazing job with everything. Beautiful writing and great images. This movie is such an inspiration, thanks for reminding me why.-UNK

Kitty LeClaw said...

Unkie Lance: I, too, am inspired by this movie... "to always do Evil, and to turn others to Evil."

I receive so much, but rarely give back to Satan, my Lord and Master.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is some of the most interesting and incisive discussion of ALUCARDA I have read...and I have read a lot! About 24 years ago I took a chance renting this on VHS under the title SISTERS OF SATAN, because I liked the director's film DR. TARR'S TORTURE DUNGEON. Liked it well enough, but wound up watching it over and over. It became just about my favorite film of all time. It is absolutely intoxicating and immensely quotable.


Anonymous said...

TKK sampled the shit out of this movie, not just that one quote: "everybody has to die," "..but there could be happiness after death," "don't listen to them," "you liars...repent," "easy girl," etc. I even recognized Alucarda's laugh at the beginning of the blood bondage scene from "Cuz its Hot." Not only are they my favourite ebm/industrial band but they have an awsome taste in movies (Alucarda, The Lost Boys, Day of the Dead, The Crow, etc.) haha.

As for the movie, it's an absolute inspiration for Mexican horror films. If you liked it, you should check out Alejandro Jodorowsky's "Santa Sangre" and Guillermo del Toro's "Cronos."